In 1st Corinthians it is written that:
“Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Today these verses are well-known wedding fodder.
What it fails to mention is that love is sickening, sometimes toxic.
Love can be blinding
Love is inevitably coupled with great loss.
It’s at the heart of the most painful encounters.
The greater the love the greater the loss.
And yet, it is utterly worthwhile.
Love is both an insidious addiction and a wonderful disease.
Faith, Hope or Love?
I was thinking today, I have more to say regarding the conclusion of chapter 13 of 1st Corinthians.
The chapter closes with another famous platitude, focusing on what the author thinks are the most important facets of the human experience. What drivers would remain if we could distil everything else away?
(13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
In other words: (Faith|Hope) < Love
Ok, it should be no surprise that I can agree that faith isn’t the greatest of the three. For one thing, faith relies on hope; faith is hope without evidence. Faith is a subset of hope. They’re clearly not on equal footing.
Love on the other hand is independent to hope but I don’t think you can argue that it’s greater. A human without love is probably miserable and sapped of energy. But as long as they think that things might change they will keep going.
However if you remove hope then all is quickly lost. All the love in the world will not save those who’ve lost hope. More love won’t cure the terminally ill or the suicidal. The only thing that will save the hopeless is reinstating hope. This treatment (medical intervention, counselling) is often funded with love, but that’s an irrelevant detail, success depends purely on whether hope is able to be restored not on the amount of love invested.
As a driving force hope trumps love. I’m a big fan of love. As it has been said, we should strive to love others twenty-five percent more than we expect them to love us. But ultimately, love is useless without hope.
And totally as an aside, this chapter also contains quite possibly my favourite bible verse:
(11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
This resonates with me in only the most snide fashion. When I was a child I believed this book of fairytales whole heartedly. When I became an adult I stopped playing with these invisible friends.
Finally, here are a few quotes about love that came to mind while pondering this stuff:
A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
– Martin Luther King, Strength to Love
When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.
– Mahatma Gandhi